LAS VEGAS At the Consumer Electronics Show, Vizio Inc. will announce plans to use the 60 GHz chips from SiBeam Inc. in a line of high definition LCD TVs and adapters that will ship in June. However, in what appears to be a last minute change, Vizio is not announcing plans to use the technology in a line of Blu-ray disk players and may also show systems using at least one other vendor's wireless video chips.
In briefings in late December, SiBeam said Vizio would use its chips in both TVs and Blu-ray players. The startup claimed the U.S. TV maker's move was a sign its technology had moved beyond the stage of use in adapters and into embedded consumer products, leading a pack of competitors in wireless video.
Vizio (Irvine, Calif.) will use in LCD TVs a second-generation chip set from SiBeam that consumes about half the power of its initial silicon and sports several new features. It is based on a subset of a specification in the works by the ad hoc WirelessHD group, a consortium of top consumer electronics companies working with SiBeam.
The startup has also announced it will license its baseband technology to other chip makers starting in late 2010.
SiBeam said several other big consumer electronics companies will show at CES TVs and Blu-ray players using the new chip set. However, it was not able to provide details of any other design wins before the opening of the event.
Although Vizio is not announcing Blu-ray players with SiBeam's technology, the chip startup said it would show such products in its private suite at CES. A press statement from SiBeam rushed out a day in advance of a planned January 5 release did not address the apparent last minute change in Vizio's plans.
"By incorporating WirelessHD into a range of new products, Vizio will be among the first to introduce wireless solutions to the mainstream market said Matthew McRae, vice president of products for Vizio, speaking in a press statement issued late on January 3, "Working together with SiBEAM, we're thrilled to introduce WirelessHD-based products to our customers who want a complete, high quality wireless entertainment experience with easier and faster setup," he added.
OEMs are expected to experiment with a variety of approaches at CES and beyond until the market decides on a standard, a process that could take years. At least three other groups of companies are vying to supply chips that will send high definition video around the digital home.
The Wireless Gigabit Alliance, backed by many of today's top Wi-Fi chip makers, announced in December it will complete before April a 60 GHz spec supporting wireless versions of DisplayPort, HDMI, PCI Express and USB. It will run at up to 7 Gbits/second at the physical layer and be available in products in 2011.
Earlier in December, the WHDI Consortium announced it has completed a spec for a second generation of the 5 GHz technology from startup Amimon. It promises to carry high definition video up to 100 feet and through multiple walls at maximum data rates up to 3 Gbits/second using a 40 MHz channel. The 60 GHz approaches are typically limited to about 10 meters with limited penetration through walls.
Separately, companies including ProVision Communications, Qualcomm and Quantenna have versions of the current 802.11n spec with multiple antennas targeting similar uses.
The heated competition "is a sign of a vibrant market," said Craig Mathias, principal of market watcher Farpoint Group (Ashland, Mass.). "The really interesting debates [about which wireless video technology to use in the home] are just starting," he added.